St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ignore party base at your peril

Unprincipled "win at any cost" advocates received a bipartisan jolt of reality this week in Maryland. Two incumbent congressmen, one Democrat and one Republican, who strayed from their parties' ideological principles by staking out "moderate" voting records, were overwhelmingly defeated for reelection. Neither could draw more than a third of the vote in their own primaries.

Congressional Quarterly rates both seats as "safe" for their respective parties.

Democrat Albert Wynn, an 8-term incumbent, lost his D.C. suburban seat to non-profit executive Donna Edwards, 60%-33%. Edwards, who lost her challenge to Wynn last election, received substantial financial backing from ideologically progressive groups like the SEIU and the League of Conservation Voters, whom Wynn publicly derided as a "left wing conspiracy." In 2004, a Green Party challenger had drawn 4.5% of the vote against Wynn, a very respectable performance in a contest with both Democrat and Republican contenders. Both Wynn and Edwards are African Americans, and both had endorsed Barack Obama for President.

Republican Wayne Gilchrest, a 9-term incumbent, lost his eastern Chesapeake seat to conservative State Sen. Andrew Harris, 44%-33%, even though the anti-Gilchrest vote was split among four challengers. Gilchrest had annoyed conservatives by voting to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, as well as with his support for gay rights and the environment. Harris was backed by the conservative Club for Growth, while Gilchrest had backing from the same League of Conservation Voters that helped the liberal Edwards pull her upset.

The lesson: Principles matter.


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